Competitive Enablement

Here are the 3 Types of Competitors Everyone Must Face

There are three threat levels of competition. This is something all organizations have in common.

Direct Competition is familiar. Perhaps you’ve been alternating top spot for years. They’re the Echo to your Siri, the Zane to your Harry. You sell essentially the same thing to essentially same people. They’re a focus of your competitive intelligence program. You’ve learned from each other, traded shots and maybe gotten comfortable in your top of the food chain mentality. There are few alarms and few surprises. You both ride the wave of popular culture and depend largely on the tried and true to maintain your established fan bases.

Indirect Competition offers a similar-ish product in a different-ish category. Satisfying the same needs but not in the same way. They’re the Netflix to your Paramount Studios. You both offer solutions to people who want to watch quality entertainment in the comfort of their own homes, but your delivery method, content and price points differ. The little DVD-mail service that could is the poster child for the indirect competition that few took as seriously as they should have. Do they now, even? It’s the case study that just keeps giving…

Replacement Competition is unsettling, literally and figuratively. In an instant they can jump out to snatch your customer, and so you nervously wait for them, never sure from where they’ll pounce. They represent the Other. It’s like someone went shopping for your digital SLR and decided instead to pay for a Getty subscription. Or they decided to buy a commuter bike instead of your electric car. It doesn’t even have to be remotely similar. Maybe they decide to stop buying lattes for a year to pay for that bike, or a trip, or something equally as unpredictable. Damn you free will!  (Shakes fist at the sky.)

And the most important thing they all have in common is that they can appear at any moment. Technology evens the playing field so that most of us can fight above our weight class. Competitors can originate in the most unexpected of places. Honeywell probably never expected to compete directly against Google in the home smoke detector category and now they’re both looking at being replaced entirely by digital home assistants, like Amazon’s Echo.

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Once a week we dive into the competitive strategies of some of the biggest brands and provide tactical advice to help you beat your competition.